Yiliang ‘Doublelift’ Peng has been formally benched by Team Liquid for Week 7 of the LCS, after his temporary replacement Edward ‘Tactical’ Ra guided the four-time LCS champions to their first 2–0 round of the 2020 Spring Split.
Despite being one of the most decorated LCS players of all time, Doublelift admitted at the start of the season he is no longer focused on winning the domestic competition. Instead, he revealed, he wants to fully focus on international glory.
After these comments ahead of the Spring Split season opener, however, Team Liquid has struggled to make an impact in the Championship Series. Now, the defending champions boast a paltry 6–6 split record.
There have been a few external issues for Liquid. Key pickup Mads ‘Broxah’ Brock-Pedersen missed the first few rounds of the season due to a long-winded visa saga, and Peng himself was ruled out of Week 6’s matches with laryngitis.
Despite Broxah’s long-awaited arrival against Immortals and Counter Logic Gaming, the org continued to struggle, posting back-to-back 1–1 rounds to remain stuck in the LCS doldrums developing at the bottom of the standings.
According to some, including former Liquid jungler Christian ‘IWillDominate’ Rivera, the team issues had all come from one source — Doublelift. The bot laner wasn’t trying in the regular season, Rivera said, and it was showing.
Now, it appears Liquid has come to the same conclusion, with Liquid owner Steve Arhancet confirming the signing of former 100 Thieves bot laner Rikara for their Academy team, to give Tactical the chance at the LCS spot.
“Rikara is being brought in to play Academy so both DL and Tactical can both focus on LCS. Tactical will start this weekend, but we’ll continue to evaluate week to week,” the org owner confirmed on Twitter on March 3.
Rikara is being brought in to play Academy so both DL and Tactical can both focus on LCS. Tactical will start this weekend, but we’ll continue to evaluate week to week.
— Steve Arhancet (@LiQuiD112) March 4, 2020
This official benching led Doublelift to take to social media as well, releasing a statement about Liquid’s intentions on March 3 as well.
In the words of the four-time back-to-back North American champion, the 26-year-old had lost all motivation to push for more. While Peng had yet to achieve anything of significance internationally, he felt “satisfied” in the LCS.
Doublelift admitted as such in his statement, updating fans that he had been “benched because [he] had no motivation until very recently.”
“Being sick and unable to compete gave me my passion back, but too late,” Liquid’s star AD carry continued. “I’m sorry towards every one of my teammates, and I’ll be working from now on to regain their trust.”
I'm benched because I had no motivation until very recently. Being sick and unable to compete gave me my passion back, but too late. I'm sorry towards every one of my teammates and I'll be working from now on to regain their trust.
— Yiliang Peng (@TLDoublelift) March 4, 2020
He also explained these moments, personally, were a big “wakeup call” for him. In particular, he added in the team’s weekly BTS series, he was “definitely too relaxed,” and admitted he “wasn’t taking scrims too seriously” in Spring.
“When we lost, I didn’t feel upset, and when we played well, it didn’t feel really rewarding,” he continued, and said he wanted to fix these issues. “How relaxed I was for the last month was just a direct result of [a lack of] passion.”
For Team Liquid fans, this may be a blessing in disguise. Tactical has already proven he can cut it on the LCS stage — the 19-year-old finished deathless against both Team SoloMid and 100 Thieves — and Doublelift may regain motivation.
As of now, Liquid may not have much hope of catching breakaway leaders Cloud9, who have already branded TSM and surprise package Dignitas as their main competitors, but they can aim to break into Spring playoffs.
Liquid and their new-look roster, complete with Academy star Tactical and a finally-settled Broxah — who picked up Player of the Week last round — will take on Immortals (6–6) and last-placed CLG (2–10) this weekend.